Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

Cessna has begun flight testing the prototype Citation CJ2 light business jet. The company says it has more than 100 firm orders for the stretched, uprated CitationJet derivative.

The Wichita, Kansas-based manufacturer plans an "aggressive" certification schedule for the CJ2, with US approval expected by the second quarter of next year. Customer deliveries are planned to begin in early 2001.

Cessna has been flight testing the CJ2's uprated Williams-Rolls FJ44-2C engine since November, on a modified Citation S/II. The aircraft's Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated avionics have been under test in a CitationJet for almost two years.

Compared with the original CitationJet, the CJ2 is 1.3m(4.2ft) longer, with a 0.9m(29ft) greater wing span. The cabin is stretched almost 0.9m, to accommodate six passengers.

The 2,300lb thrust (10kN) FJ44-2Cs are 21% more powerful than the -1As powering the CitationJet, increasing cruise speed and service ceiling. Maximum take-off weight, payload and range are all increased.

The baseline CitationJet is also being upgraded, and will be known as the CJ1. Deliveries are to begin in the first quarter of next year. Changes include installation of Pro Line 21 avionics and a gross weight increase which provides a moderate improvement in payload/range performance.

Meanwhile, Russ Meyer plans to step down as Cessna's chief executive officer by the end of the year, following 25 years at the helm. Although Meyer will remain involved in product development and marketing, he will be replaced by the company's vice-chairman, Gary Hay.

Source: Flight International